BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Gov. Livingston senior wrestler Harrison Kelly, who has a perfect regular season record, pinned his way to the finals of the Union County Tournament. Kelly defeated Michael Murphy of Westfield to capture the UCT 145 lb. crown last Saturday.
Kelly pinned early in the semifinal round against Cranford's Collin Murray (9-1) before defeating Westfield's Michael Murphy by a 10-6 decision. At their first meeting earlier this month, Kelly defeated Murphy in an 8-6 decision.
Teammate Conner Vill also made it to the UCT finals in the 152 lb weight class, losing a 9-3 decision against Patrick Nevins (Roselle Park).
Gov. Livingston head coach Rick Ortega said, "Harrison Kelly is wrestling the best I have seen in a long time. Harry has put in the most work in the off season and we believe this could be the year for him to make it to AC."
Kelly had made big strides to improve his confidence and composure on the mat -- and he credits Coach Ortega. "The biggest influence on me has been Coach Ortega as he has believed in me through all of the highs and lows," said Kelly. He also prepared for the season by wrestling at Yale St. Wrestling Club with Dan Hilt and Donnie Defilippis in the off season.
"He has made a commitment to himself to get better every day," said Ortega. "He is continuously watching film and asking questions. He is focused and determined to accomplish his goals for this year."
Having never made it on the podium in previous years, Kelly feels his hard work has paid off. "It just feels this is my year," said Kelly.
Every competitive high school wrestler has the goal to get to the State Championship -- Kelly's goal is no different. "Every year my goal is to be a state champ. Coach Ortega always tells us to set our goals as high as possible because it gives us something to chase," said Kelly. However, first up, he'd like to capture the district title.
"We need him to peak at the right time and this will get him down to AC where we believe he could make some noise," said Ortega.
For winning the Union County Tournament 145 lb weight class title and dedication and commitment to his sport, Harrison Kelly has been named the Valairco Heating and Cooling Highlander Athlete of the Week.
Additional comments by Coach Ortega: "Harry has matured as a young man these past four years. His demeanor and behavior on and off the mat has transformed him into a leader on this team and the younger guys should look to follow. His work ethic is second to none and he continues to get better."
Harrison took time out to answer a few questions in recognition of being named Valairco Heating and Cooling Highlander Athlete of the Week.
TAPinto: When and how did you get into wrestling?
Harrison: I’ve wrestled all my life, my dad was a wrestler in high school so naturally I was too.
TAPinto: Who has been your toughest opponent so far?
Harrison: I can’t really think of who my toughest opponent has been as I really just focus on my wrestling and how I can do better each time I wrestle.
TAPinto: What is something you focus on when you are in a match?
Harrison: I don’t focus on much during my matches, I feel like my mind usually just goes on autopilot.
TAPinto: How comfortable are you with your current weight and wrestling at this class?
Harrison: I feel like 145 is the perfect weight for me this year. I feel strong and I feel like I’m in better shape than everybody I wrestle.
TAPinto: Do you have a pre-match ritual?
Harrison: I used to focus a lot on “pre match rituals” but this year I just like to listen to music and warm up, I feel like too much work goes into this for it to be left up to superstition.
TAPinto: What is your go to meal before a match?
Harrison: My go to meal before a match is usually something light, I usually have some fruit salad or a PB&J with a cherry punch pedialyte.
TAPinto: One food that you miss most during the season?
Harrison: Ben and Jerry’s cherry garcia ice cream
TAPinto: When you're not wrestling what do you like to do?
Harrison: When I’m not wrestling I enjoy cooking and lifting
TAPinto: What do you enjoy most about GL?
Harrison: The one thing that I enjoy most about GL is that I used to come to all the matches and look up to all the guys on the team, and now I get to take part and be somebody for the next generation to look up to.
TAPinto: What subject and teacher do you like the most?
Harrison: My favorite subject right now is statistics with Mr. Hess
TAPinto: What will you miss the most about GL?
Harrison: I will miss the close knit bond between the team and the coaches. I know that my coaches really care not only about my wrestling but me as a person.
TAPinto: You are going to Washington and Lee next year to wrestle. What made you choose this program and school to continue your wrestling career?
Harrison: I chose Washington and Lee because not only will I get to take part in a great wrestling team there, but I will get a great education. I also felt that I connected with Coach Shearer and Coach Radsky.
TAPinto: Most Memorable Match?
Harrison: No matches come to mind, I just try to take every match as a stepping stone and keep learning.
TAPinto: How do you maintain drive and focus?
Harrison: I don’t really find that I need motivation, wrestling is just something that I love so showing up and working hard doesn’t even feel like work.
Valairco Heating & Cooling is the proud sponsor of the Highlander Athlete of the Week. Kevin McHugh, Valairco Owner and President and Berkeley Heights resident, is an alumni of Gov. Livingston High School.
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